Meatless Monday Simple Vegetable Broth

In the midst of throwing together my favorite chili one afternoon, I realized I’d forgotten a staple ingredient during our weekly trip to the grocery store: vegetable broth.

[The dread]

I’d just spent over an hour meticulously chopping and measuring, and I didn’t feel like making another trip to the store, so I decided to try my hand at making my own veggie broth for the very first time.

The broth was simple to make, and the result was delicious and extremely cost efficient. Not to mention, it didn’t have any of the “mystery” ingredients commonly found in store-bought versions. (What the heck is natural flavor anyway? Does anyone else ever wonder about this?) One of the most outstanding features of this broth is that there’s absolutely no added sodium. Zero.

In my first attempt, I used veggies we had on hand, but you could certainly create your own combination(s). I’ve since altered this recipe many times, including ingredients, such as potato peels, a corn cob, and mushrooms, just to name a few.

As a general rule, I choose vegetables/ingredients that compliment whatever I plan to use the finished broth for. (Example: I added the potato peels to a broth that would later be used for potato soup.) I also try to avoid adding vegetables that have overpowering flavors, such as asparagus and brussels sprouts as well as ingredients that cook down too much, like sweet potatoes and red lentils.

Go ahead, and give it a try!

Simple Vegetable Broth

vegetable broth

This is a terrific basic vegetable broth; it’s simple to prepare, cost efficient, there’s no added sodium, and it doesn’t contain any of the “mystery” ingredients often found in its processed counterparts. (Alter the ingredients as needed to compliment the recipe in which you plan to use the broth)

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, chopped (I like to leave the skin on.)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley sprigs
  • 7 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed

To prepare:

Wash vegetables thoroughly, and very coarsely chop them. Toss all ingredients into a large pot with a few tablespoons of water, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for 7-10 minutes or until veggies begin to soften and brown. (Add water, a couple tablespoons at a time, as needed to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add two quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Carefully strain the stock through a mesh strainer into another pot and discard what’s left of the solids. Viola! You’ve just made homemade veggie broth! Pat yourself on the back.

Broth will keep for about a week in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for several months. I usually double this recipe and freeze the broth in smaller portions so I have it on hand whenever I decide to make a batch of soup, which is often.

[Enjoy]

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Meatless Monday Liquid Lunch

There was a time when, to me, “liquid lunch” meant cocktails at noon with my exuberant Uncle. Although these were enjoyable afternoons, those days are long gone, and, since then, the term has taken on quite a different meaning.

Allow me to introduce you to my power-packed friend, The Smoothie.

Smoothies have earned a starring-role in my diet for several reasons: They’re quick and easy to prepare, clean up and consume, and they travel exceptionally well. Most importantly, they allow me to supply my body with more of the vital nutrients it requires than I’d otherwise be able to fit in at most meals – a task than can feel daunting.

Oh, and did I mention they’re also delicious? They really are.

Smoothies

Call me a health nerd, but this picture makes me smile!

When Miss P was a newborn (before we mastered the whole babywearing thing), smoothies were often the only “meal” I had a chance to prepare until Tim got home from work- usually late in the evening.

As a brand new and exhausted nursing Mama, it was important for me -and Miss P- that I maintained a healthy diet, so when the stash of frozen meals my mom had prepared to get me through my first week home dwindled, I was grateful to have some stellar smoothie recipes in my arsenal.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dairy-Free Simple Banana Walnut Smoothie:

This rich and creamy smoothie is reminiscent of a decadent banana bread, but you can sip sans guilt; bananas serve as a source of steady energy, walnuts add protein and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and cinnamon has powerful anti-inflamitory properties. What a healthy – and delicious – way to start your day!

Banana Walnut Smoothie

Makes one [very] large serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe banana, frozen (Though you can use fresh, frozen makes a much creamier smoothie.)
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts, soaked (see note below)
  • 2 or 3 pitted medjool dates
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • Handful of ice cubes (optional)

Toss all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender, blend until smooth, and viola! You have yourself a light – yet surprisingly filling – nutrient dense meal or snack. (I like to sprinkle my finished-product with additional cinnamon because it looks snazzy, plus I just absolutely love the stuff.)

NOTE: Nuts contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which make them difficult to digest. Soaking your raw walnuts in filtered water overnight (or for at least 8 hours) will deactivate these properties making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients you’re supplying it with.

Meatless Monday Taco Salad Supreme

Meatless Monday Taco Salad

A cruelty-free Cinco de Mayo smorgasbord!

This week’s Meatless Monday also happens to be Miss P’s first Cinco de Mayo! To keep things festive, we’ll be forgoing our beloved “Taco Tuesday” and feasting upon this mouth-watering taco salad with all the fixings a day early. Grab your sombrero and give it a try; this is one serious salad.

I’ll share how we do it, but please know this recipe is pretty much a free-for-all when it comes to ingredients and assembly.

Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 a small red onion, diced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 can pitted black olives
  • 15 oz. can black beans or pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 package Mexican style veggie crumbles, equal to 1 lb. of ground beef (Lightlife Smart Ground is our favorite.)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream (We like Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet.)
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa of your choice
  • tortilla chips of your choice

Optional Ingredients:

  • shredded cheese
  • refried beans
  • lime wedges
  • jalapeños
  • cilantro
  • hot sauce
  • scallions

(Really, the possibilities are endless.)

To prepare:

  • Keeping each item separate, shred lettuce, seed and dice tomatoes, dice red onion, and cut lime into wedges. Drain and slice olives. Set aside.
  • Drain and rinse beans; beans may be warmed over low heat in a sauce pan or served cold.
  • Prepare corn and veggie crumbles according to package directions.
  • When everything else is ready, slice the avocado. (This should be your last step, as avocados begin to turn brown quickly once exposed to air.)
  • Assemble salads on separate plates: We like to start with the veggie crumbles, beans, and corn, then add fresh ingredients. Finally, squeeze a couple of lime wedges over your salad, and top with a dollop of sour cream and some salsa.
  • Serve with a side of tortilla chips.

Note: I like to put each item in a separate container (containers with lids work best), and line them up along the countertop or tabletop. This makes assembling salads and storing/retrieving leftovers fast and easy.

Nom nom nom!

Nom nom nom!

Happy Cinco de Mayo from The Excellent Adventures of Miss P!

7 Months

 

7 Month Board

Happy 7 Months to Miss P! Seven. Months. How is that even possible? Seriously. 

Since her half-birthday, Miss P’s tasted her first solid foods. [Let’s hear it for avocados and sweet potatoes!] She’s become a pro sitter-upper, an exuberant hand-clapper and [wait for it, wait for it] a curious crawler; the last of which the cat and dog don’t seem overly impressed with. She’s also charmed our pants off – over and over again – with her well-placed declarations and whispers of Mama and Dada.

Yes, it’s certainly been a triumphant month for Miss P.

[Trumpets blare in the distance]

Miss P's First Itty-Bitty Pony-Tail

Miss P’s First Itty-Bitty Pony-Tail

One of the things Tim and I had been (apprehensively) looking forward to this month was dabbling in the introduction of solid foods. Although we were given the go-ahead to begin Miss P on rice cereal [gag] at four months, [Seriously, pediatricians, WHY are you STILL recommending this?] we knew from the beginning that we wouldn’t be offering her solids until she passed the six-month mark. And we certainly wouldn’t be beginning with rice cereal because you don’t have to do much digging to learn that, despite what that good ol’ ped tells you, rice cereal (or oatmeal or any other grain) is an extremely poor food choice for an infant.

First, rice cereal has little nutritional value. Second, in order to digest said grain(s), the body must utilize an enzyme called amylase. That sounds simple enough, I know, but the trouble is, babies don’t produce this enzyme in a large enough quantity to properly digest grains until sometime after the one-year mark. (Babies actually don’t produce amylase at all until sometime around 6 months.)

Armed with this information, Tim and I decided Miss P’s first foods would be two of Mama’s favorites: avocado (which is rich in healthy fats), followed by sweet potatoes (a decent source of iron). We also decided to skip the purées and begin with finger foods, a decision that initially left me all, wait, can you DO that? As it turns out, you can; It’s called baby led weaning (blw), and it’s something I recently learned about (and something I’ll speak much more about in a later entry). I do want to quickly clarify that in this instance, “weaning” is meant in the sense of beginning to incorporate solids, NOT terminating a nursing relationship.

At 6 1/2 months, we were ready to begin blw!

How did this seemingly zany method of introducing solids turn out? Was it a success? I suppose to answer, you’d have to decide on a personal definition for the word “success.” Our goal has always been for Miss P’s main source of calories and nutrition to come from breastmilk for the duration of her first year. That being said, we’re viewing these early encounters with solids purely as sensory experiences as opposed to meal replacements. We don’t always offer solids each day, and when we do, they quickly become squishy messy playthings.

Most of the food that reaches her mouth does so inadvertently, but that’s okay. She seems perplexed and amazed with these new textures and sensations, and we can’t get enough of her priceless responses to them.

Miss P’s verdict on the small amount of  food that’s actually been ingested: Avocados, NAY; Sweet potatoes, YAY!

7 Months Food Collage

Behold! Squishy things! I shall look confused for a moment, then proceed to mash these items up and transfer them to my lap!

As for this business with the crawling, I’m going to have to elect to skip over that and remain in denial for at least a few more weeks. I hope that’s okay.

[Emotional breakdown averted]

Now, on to our photo shoot, which proves more eventful each month:

7 months chair 3

7 months chair 2

7 months chair 1

7 months chair 4

She’s been checking out the books on the shelf behind her chair for months now, but this is the first time she’s ever plucked one from the ledge and pulled it into her lap mouth. [Note: It occurs to me now that we’re a bit backwards here with the whole food in the lap and book in the mouth bit.] We took a break from our photo shoot to read a book about Eeyore the Donkey. Alright, I had to take one picture of our story-time; it was just too sweet not to.

When she grew tired of the book and the chair, this happened:

7 months chair 5

Slow down, Miss P! Mama is not ready for this just yet. This is also one of the few pictures where I see some of myself in her; she’s usually all Daddy.

And sometimes in the midst of all this hustle and bustle, I’m able to capture a moment of serenity; these moments feel as if the whole world is taking a deep breath.

[Inhale] 

Black and White Garden

Miss P communing with nature.

Pensive playtime

Pensive playtime

Kangaroo

An after-lunch nap for Miss P

Black and White Sleeping

Sweet dreams our Dearest Miss P. Mommy and Daddy love you.

 [Exhale]

A Maypole for Miss P

It’s May 1st, and this morning we celebrated Miss P’s first Beltane. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it involves much more history and lore than I currently care to dive into, but here’s a snippet of background: Beltane – which falls halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice – is an ancient pagan fertility festival that’s still observed by many today. It’s a time to celebrate life and the Earth’s abundance while acknowledging summer’s impending arrival.

Perhaps one of Beltane’s most widely known traditions is dancing around the Maypole (a tree or pole adorned with colorful ribbons). I must confess, there wasn’t much dancing around here, but there was some bouncing and clapping – one of Miss P’s newest tricks – and our celebration featured a miniature Maypole, which Tim helped us make last night.

In addition to the Maypole, I spent some time last night making daisy floral crowns- one for Miss P, and one for another tiny friend. Daisies represent simplicity, which is something I’ve been trying to align myself and our home with since Miss P’s arrival. It’s been a slow process, but, I must say, we’re making progress.

Beltane 3

Miss P’s counting down the days till summer in the dress her Grandma and Grandpa brought her back from their recent trip to Mexico.

Beltane 2

It’s so sweet to see her communing with nature; she just loves being outside.

Beltane 1

Of course while many are welcoming the summer after a long harsh winter, in South Florida, we’re enjoying our last days of temperate weather before the heat and humidity take over. We certainly live in a different world.

Wishing you all a bountiful summer!

Beltane 7

Spring Fever

woodsSpring is in the air around here. Okay, okay, I must admit, spring in South Florida is just a lump of hot days where I wait, dreading the humidity’s impending return. I guess what I should’ve said was, spring is on my mind.  Yes, that feels a bit more accurate.

This is my eighth spring in South Florida. I thought the first few were pretty spectacular, what with not having to wait for the snow to melt and all. In fact, I decided to move to Florida as an undergrad at SUNY Oswego when I roused one late-April morning, and looked out my window only to see two inches of snow had settled on my car while I was asleep. I decided to blow off my classes and go back to bed; there was no way I was pulling a snow brush out that late in the year. I’d spent two-and-a-half decades in Upstate New York- enough was enough.

[Next stop, South Florida]

Year round warm hot weather turned out to be a novelty that I quickly grew bored with. My year used to be marked by four seasons. Sure, some unpleasant weather popped up from time to time, but these seasons worked in harmony with one another and gave my life a sense of time and balance. In the absence of traditional seasons, I feel disconnected; I’m living in a vacuum.

This year Miss P is with us, and I’m realizing that if we stay in South Florida, she’ll never know the crisp pungent air and blazing leaves of fall – the season she came to us. She won’t wipe the fog of her warm breath away from the window as she peers out at snowflakes gathering on front lawns and mighty pines or feel a stir of anticipation as the inclement weather slowly gives way to the rebirth of spring. She won’t dance in the sunshine, inhaling the sweetness of lilacs and fresh cut grass as the first signs of summer reluctantly creep up, or run barefoot though the velvety lawn collecting crab apples and lady bugs.

lilac bush

The delicate blooms of a lilac bush. (Very special thanks to Jasmin Efing in New York for allowing me to share her photo.)

In South Florida, I’m forced to experience the beloved seasons I speak of mentally rather than physically. I keep scented candles and trinkets representing each one stuffed in a bureau drawer – a sandwich bag full of colorful fabric leaves, a snow globe that lights up and sends glitter swirling onto the encased landscape, a pine cone I picked up off a dirt path in Vermont – and I draw upon these collections throughout the year as a means of triggering my mind to take me back. Still, there is a hollowness and palpable longing.

These treasures will never evoke the seasons for Miss P; not as I know them. They won’t coax vivid images onto the back of her eyelids or fill her nostrils with scents that aren’t really there, yet are so powerful, at times, they seem to take over the room. They won’t leave her reeling with a visceral longing to hop in the car and head north until she’s home, because she is home, and here she will know her own seasons. Non-seasons. Seasons that fall out of balance with my own.

These are some of the things I’ve spent the last few months pondering, but life doesn’t slow down while I dwell on its implications, so I must continue to move forward. We’re already busy around here creating our own spring traditions- hybrids of the way spring is meant to be experienced and how it presents itself in the subtropics.

I’ve been making floral crowns for Miss P and taking her for leisurely strolls around our neighborhood. We recently learned the Poppins Hip Carry in our new woven wrap, and it’s become one of our favorite carries for walks because it allows Miss P greater freedom to look around at the world while still providing an opportunity for her to turn into me and nap when she’s had enough.

These days we’ve been enjoying every moment of fresh air we can, because soon it will be so hot outside that the candle residing on a tabletop on our patio will turn to a pool of wax in the blistering afternoon sun.

Spring Fever

My little flower child

crown

Most would call this sudden urge to be outside, this urge to commune with nature – to honor it with time and flowers and feelings of gratitude – spring fever. For me, “spring fever” has become a seasonal symptom of another psychological malady called homesickness.

For Miss P – this world where lilacs don’t bloom, and Robins don’t lay their speckled eggs the color of the June sky, this world where leaves don’t turn luminous with hues of gold and red and burnt orange in fall, and snowflakes don’t blanket the forest in February, this world of year round mosquitoes and greenery, this world where the air has only two settings: hot and hot and humid – this world of suspension is home.

I can’t wait to take her home with me.

I’ll leave you with a handful of photos from our spring shoot.

And what spring photo would be complete without a Beatrix Potter book? My sister and I adored Potter’s books – and the furry creatures that run wild throughout them – when we were kids.

Spring Photo Shoot Book 3Spring Photo Shoot Book 1Spring Photo Shoot Book 2

Miss P looking like a magical fairy in the frilly dress her Grandmom sent:

Spring Photo Shoot 1Spring Photo Shoot Tinkerbell

Meatless Monday Zucchini “Spaghetti” w/Creamy Avocado Pesto

Zucchini spaghetti3

Ripe avocado lends a perfect base for the robustness of fresh basil and garlic to fuse with the nuttiness of nutritional yeast and tahini. A little fresh lemon juice adds a zing to this savory modified pesto. Serve it a-top a bed of spiralized zucchini for a raw vegan and gluten free twist on the Italian classic.

This dish is surprisingly satisfying, plus it takes mere minutes to whip up. Sure to be a (cruelty-free) summertime hit!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium zucchinis
  • 2 ripe avocados (halved, and pitted)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • juice from 1 small lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional ingredients

  • grape tomatoes
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • fresh basil, torn
  • fresh parsley, chopped

To prepare

Wash and peel zucchinis. I use a spiralizer to transform my zucchini into spaghetti-like strands, but you can certainly julienne the zucchini by hand. Once your zucchini is spiralized, place it in a large bowl and set it aside while you prepare the sauce.

Zucchini Spaghetti1

My favorite part of preparing this meal!

Zucchini spaghetti2

This picture shows four medium zucchinis spiralized.

To make the Creamy Avocado Pesto, simply toss the flesh from both avocados and all remaining ingredients into your food processor or high speed blender (I use my Vitamix), and blend until smooth.

Next, empty the sauce into the bowl of zucchini, and mix until zucchini’s evenly coated. (I find that a wooden spoon does well with this job.)

Garnish with chopped or sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parsley or torn fresh basil (because, seriously, can you ever really have enough fresh basil? No. No you can’t).

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

A garden salad drizzled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar makes a tasty compliment to this meal.

Zucchini Spaghetti w:Alfredo Pesto

Now that’s what I call un-cooking!

 [Wipes drool from keyboard]

Meatless Monday Ultimate Black Bean and Veggie Soup

I was introduced to the concept of Meatless Monday in 2011, during my first graduate residency at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. If you’re unfamiliar with the term – as I was at the time – Meatless Monday is a global movement that seeks to promote greater health and environmental sustainability by simply choosing to forgo meat on Mondays.

I was initially intrigued by the campaign, but by the time I returned home from residency and plunged into my first semester of graduate work, it was long forgotten. After all, I was already submerged in the vegan lifestyle, which meant all my days were meatless.

I’ve been noticing some references to Meatless Monday over the past few months, primarily via social media, but I don’t see them as often as I’d like to. I thoroughly support the vision behind the movement, but I realize that if you typically consume meat at each meal, the idea of removing it, even just for one day, can seem a bit implausible. After all, what will you eat? I mean, who wants to nosh on carrot sticks and lettuce all day? That sounds terrible. Plus, you’ll be ravenous by the time Tuesday rolls around, right?

Eh, not so much.

I’ve been bouncing back-and-forth between a vegan and vegetarian diet for years now, and as zany as the idea may seem to a carnivore, it’s totally possible, dare I even say easy to put together delicious and satisfying meals sans meat.

MM food

Top: Rolled oats w/fresh strawberries, almond milk & sliced almonds; Berry smoothie; Choco-Banana “Ice Cream” (made from blended bananas, coconut milk & raw cacao powder) Bottom: Peanut butter & jam on whole grain bread w/apple wedges; Red lentils, quinoa, green beans & yam

In an effort to raise awareness, and to promote the myriad of health and environmental benefits that are a direct result of cutting down on meat consumption, The Excellent Adventures of Miss P will feature a recipe and/or an applicable lifestyle piece each Monday.

We welcome you to share your favorite meat-free recipe(s) with us at: excellentadventuresofmissp@gmail.com. We may even feature some of these recipes on the blog (with your permission, of course).

This week, I’d like to talk about the nutritional benefits of homemade soups and stews; both are a staple in our home for many reasons. I’ve always loved soup, but it wasn’t until I stopped stocking up on sodium and preservative laden cans of it and started making it myself – with pure unprocessed ingredients –  that it became a health food.

Most soups and stews are easy to make, and recipes tend to be forgiving of substitutions and additions, meaning you probably already have everything you need to prepare a big pot without making a trip to the store. Soups and stews also provide an excellent opportunity to sneak in a plethora of nutrient-dense foods to ensure you’re getting the most out of your meal. (Think loads of filling fiber, plentiful protein and an array of vitamins and minerals just to name a few.) As a side note, I use organic ingredients whenever possible, and I try to avoid adding canned foods as said cans are usually lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA). Although many sources have cited BPA as safe in small amounts, I tend to air on the side of caution when it comes to chemicals my family will be ingesting.

I make soup every week, so there’s always a fresh batch hanging out in our refrigerator ready be ladled into a sauce pan and reheated. I also like to keep an assortment of these soups in the freezer along with staple-ingredients, such as broth and beans, to drastically reduce the likelihood of having to reach for a can.

For our first Meatless Monday post, I’d like to share the recipe for one of my absolute favorite black bean soups. I love black beans; they’re loaded with iron (20% of your daily intake per 1-cup serving), fiber and protein, and they’re extremely versatile. Plus, they taste terrific.

I hope you’ll give this soup a try!

The Ultimate Black Bean and Veggie Soup:

Black Bean Soup

This recipe is a modified version of the Zesty Black Bean Soup from Whole Foods Market’s website; my version omits some of the prepackaged ingredients and adds a couple superstars to the mix. 

This soup is nutrient dense and fast and simple to make. The spice-blend of cinnamon and cumin lends an unexpected and exotic flair. 

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil
  • 5 medium-sized carrots, cut into coins
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) fine sea salt
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 celery stalk, finely sliced
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cups black beans (I prefer fresh, but you can certainly use 2 15 oz. cans, no-salt-added, drained and rinsed.)
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
  • fresh cilantro, chopped

Optional Ingredients:

  • additional cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • nutritional yeast
  • cheese
  • hot sauce
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • tortillas

To prepare:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, bay leaf and salt and cook until carrots are just tender, about 7 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Add cumin, cinnamon, beans, corn, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes reduce (about 20 minutes). Stir in cilantro. Serve.

Note: This soup keeps well in the refrigerator; it also freezes well!

This soup can be served with additional cilantro, lime wedges, hot sauce, sour cream… the possibilities are endless. Add cooked rice or quinoa to transform your bowl of soup into a hearty meal.

chopped veggies

Mmmm! All those colorful fresh-chopped veggies make me want to drool on my keyboard. Also- I prefer making my own broth, but I was a bit short on time this week.

Black Bean Soup

MM soup

Black bean soup w/super grain blend (red & white quinoa, buckwheat & millet) & fresh cilantro. Delish!

Have a Marvelous Meatless Monday!

6 Months

6 Month Chalkboard

…and what 6-month-photo would be complete without a face full of drool?

Dearest Poet Victoria, Our Little Miss P:

You’ve made it halfway around the sun, our sweet child. In your time here, you’ve learned to use your voice when you want to be heard- even if it’s only to babble to your blanket or razz at Raffy the Giraffe- you’ve also learned to tug at our hearts without making a sound.

You can move your body across a room, sit up and even “stand”. You’ve outgrown clothes, socks and hats and transitioned from peering up at the world from a cradle to gazing out at the world from a high chair.

You’ve filled our lives with so much peace and light and laughter.

Rock n' Play:High Chair

You’ve become so perceptive and observant; it’s like each day you’re seeing the world for the first time, and, in a sense, I suppose, you are, because this world is vast and ever-changing.

In spite of the uncertainty that often travels at the heels of new discoveries, you can take comfort in knowing we are beside you, and our love for you will remain steadfast and fierce.

The next 6 months of your journey will bring you full circle for the very first time; you’ll see spring gently fold into summer, taste your first solid foods and crawl. You’ll also likely say your first word, blow your first kiss, wave goodbye and take your first step, though we know you won’t yet wander too far.

Each day with you, our Little Poet, is an excellent adventure, and we can’t wait to see where this magnificent journey takes the three of us next.

Love, Mommy and Daddy

6 Month Collage Landscape

Ahhh, the deliciousness of being 6-months-young:

6 Month Hallway16 Month Hallway56 Month Hallway46 Month Hallway2

“There’s a flame of magic inside every stone and every flower, every bird that sings and every frog that croaks. There’s magic in the trees and the hills and the river and the rocks, in the sea and the stars and the wind, a deep, wild magic that’s as old as the world itself. It’s in you too, my darling girl, and in me, and in every living creature, be it ever so small. Even the dirt I’m sweeping up now is stardust. In fact, all of us are made from the stuff of stars.”

-from The Puzzle Ring, by Kate Forsyth

Howling at The Moon

We’ve been keeping late hours around here lately. So late that I’ve made the executive decision that we will no longer be observing Daylight’s Savings Time in our house. (I get to make decisions like that now.) I’ve never cared much for the whole “Fall Back” and “Spring Forward” anyway. No, I definitely won’t miss it. Besides, arbitrarily changing the time on our clocks throws my circadian rhythm all out of whack.

I’ve always been a night person. Before Miss P came along, I often joked that I was on Pacific Time because I’d be cooking dinner at 9 PM, or if I was in bed at a decent hour – decent meaning 11 PM – I’d toss and turn until I finally gave in, opened a book from the pile on my nightstand and read until a few hours before my alarm was scheduled to go off. That being said, I really need to start getting Miss P to bed much earlier than her new self-appointed bedtime, which seems to be falling somewhere around 2AM.

[2 AM bedtime for Miss P = No time to work for Mama.]

I’ve overheard mothers saying that their little ones are in bed for the night by 7:30 PM, or sometimes even [gasp] 6:30 PM. (6:30? In this house, dinner isn’t even on the table yet at 6:30.)

We typically start our bedtime routine with an hour of playtime around 8, followed by a bath and baby-massage. At that point, the house is dimly lit and quiet, and it stays that way until morning regardless of whether we’re still awake or not. Since we usually don’t have to wake up early, I’m fine with Miss P staying up until, say, 10 or 11 PM, but 2 AM is a bit extreme.

"What do you mean some babies are in bed by 6:30 PM, Mama?"

“What do you mean some babies are in bed by 6:30 PM, Mama?”

So yeah, we’ve been having quite the sleep fiasco, but I digress.

The past month has brought many firsts to our home, and lack of nighttime sleep isn’t one I wish to spend much time dwelling on. I’d rather revel in the thrill I felt as I recently watched Miss P master the complete roll, which means, for all intents and purposes, she’s mobile.

[Oooh. Ahhh.]

That’s right, folks, she’ll roll from one side of the room straight across to the other. She usually only rolls in one direction though (to her left), so once she gets to the end of the room, you have to spin her around so she can roll back. It’s fun and exciting and bittersweet– a word I catch myself using quite frequently these days- watching her growing and changing and acquiring so many new and stupendous skills.

As if the rolling wasn’t fascinating enough, about a week ago she started sitting up. It’s the most adorable thing to see her sitting there with her legs outstretched, knees bent and toes curled under; she always has her toes curled under.

Sitting

In addition to the motor skills Miss P’s been hard at work on, she’s become quite the little chatterbox. She’s always been extremely vocal, but her coos and babbles are now much more pronounced, and they’re really beginning to mimic the rise and fall of sentences. Sometimes she’ll let out a declarative, “blah, blah, blah, blah,” or an excited “la, la, la.” Tim and I both swear she said “no habla” the other day, and we’ve been laughing about it ever since.

One night last week we were all sitting on the couch and she was yammering away. “Come on, Miss P, let’s howl at the moon,” I said, and we yipped and giggled until it was time for bed.

At times like these, I find my mind briefly drifting back to the evenings Tim and I shared long before her arrival. Despite recent sleepless nights, I’m still in utter disbelief at how much joy she’s brought into our lives. There’s something so sacred and beautiful about these intertwining moments of stillness and chaos, something so profound about the impermanence of these fleeting stages, and we celebrate each of them because we understand we can’t have light without dark. Besides, sleepless nights often lead to lazy mornings full of cuddles, and that’s certainly something worth celebrating.

Poet and OliverCuddles